Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


This course introduces students to colloid and interface science. Key surface chemistry concepts are introduced, including the role of surface energy and adsorption of molecules at phase boundaries or interfaces. In introducing colloidal materials, emphasis is placed on the methods of their preparation and structure-property relationships. Dissolved polymers are ubiquitous in everyday formulations and thus the behaviour of polymers in solution is investigated. The self-assembly of amphiphiles into soft materials including micelles, liquid crystals and microemulsions is examined, and the relationship between these structures and formulations in which they are used is explained. The laboratory component provides training in techniques which are specific to the preparation, characterisation and simulation of dilute and concentrated surfactant and polymer solutions, and colloidal dispersions. Throughout the course, the relationship between the structure and properties of the materials and their performance in household, environmental and industrial applications will be highlighted.



  • Semester 1 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Relate the structure and properties of surface active and polymer molecules, and colloidal materials to their performance and intended applications;

2. Describe the different approaches to the classification and preparation of colloidal materials and soft matter;

3. Describe the use of surface-active, soft matter and colloidal materials in household, industrial and environmental applications;

4. Demonstrate competence in the use of various procedures and instruments for the synthesis and/or characterisation of surface-active molecules, soft matter and colloidal materials;

5. Apply the scientific process in the conduct and reporting of experimental investigation;

6. Demonstrate an awareness of the safety responsibilities involved in working with chemicals and hazardous substances.


Chemistry of Interfaces - surface energy, adsorption, the solid-gas interface, the solid-liquid interface, the liquid-gas interface

Colloid Chemistry - classification and preparation of colloidal materials, theory and control of colloid stability

Simulating Interfaces - atomistic molecular dynamics, course-grained models

Polymer Solutions - thermodynamics of polymer dissolution, polymer conformation and size in solution

Polymer and Colloid Characterisation - characterisation of polymer solutions and colloidal dispersions – size, shape and structural analysis

Soft Matter - surfactant self-assemblylyotropic liquid crystals, structured gels and particles, formulations and applications


To enrol in this course students must have successfully completed CHEM2210 and CHEM2410.

Students who have completed either CHEM2410 or CHEM2210 together with CHEM2310 prior to 2022 should email Science-SELS@newcastle.edu.au to enrol in CHEM3580.

Assumed knowledge

CHEM2210 Materials Chemistry

CHEM2410 Physical Chemistry

Assessment items

Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Laboratory Exercises and Reports *

In Term Test: In Term Tests *

Presentation: Oral Presentation

* This assessment has a compulsory requirement.

Compulsory Requirements

In order to pass this course, each student must complete ALL of the following compulsory requirements:

General Course Requirements:

  • Laboratory: There is a compulsory attendance requirement in this course. - Students must participate in and submit laboratory reports for the established minimum requirements.
  • Laboratory: Induction Requirement - Students must attend and pass the induction requirements before attending these sessions. - In order to participate in this course, students must complete a compulsory safety induction.

Course Assessment Requirements:

  • Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Attempt / Submission Requirement - Students must attempt/submit this assessment item to pass the course.
  • Tutorial / Laboratory Exercises: Pass Requirement - Students must pass this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must submit all reports and obtain an overall mark of at least 50% to pass the course.
  • In Term Test: Minimum Grade / Mark Requirement - Students must obtain a specified minimum grade / mark in this assessment item to pass the course. - Students must obtain a mark of at least 40% in each test to pass this course.

Contact hours



Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Face to Face On Campus 3 hour(s) per Week for Full Term

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.